Thursday 24 July 2014

A post about good food

So, I meant to share a few of my favourite recipes during ICLW. Then this came up in the news and ruined my appetite. However, I still need to eat, and so does everybody else! I am not particularly domestic and often not very well organized around mealtimes, but these are two examples of recipes that have really worked well for me.

Here is the Metric Converter if you like precise measurements but don't have the greatest sense of weight and volume.

Brown Rice and Lentils
This is from my Betty Crocker cookbook (the only one I regularly use) under Vegetarian, but I think it's good for everyone and makes a nice hearty side dish or lunch food. Lentils are high in iron. It is very simple but surprisingly tasty and anytime I've shared it people ask for the recipe.

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 small onion, chopped (1/4 cup)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 cup dried lentils (4 oz) sorted and rinsed
1/2 cup brown rice
1 can (14 oz) vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon red pepper sauce
1 medium green bell pepper, coarsely chopped (1 cup)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 oz)

1. In 2 quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic in butter about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender

2. Stir in lentils, rice, broth water and pepper sauce. Heat to boiling; reduce hat. Cover and simmer about 50 minutes, adding water if necessary, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

3. Stir in bell pepper. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bran Muffins
I've eaten lots of fibre over this pregnancy, and am lucky in that I've had few poopy problems. These muffins should help keep the pipes clear, but they are also delicious! The original recipe is from my MIL and makes 6 dozen, but I halved the recipe to make about 2 dozen.

Mix  these well

1/4 pound butter, melted
1/2 cup canola oil
3 eggs
1 cup raisins or fruit of your choice
2 cups sugar, 1 white 1 brown
3 cups buttermilk
1/2 box Quaker Oat bran, in the green box

Mix in another bowl
1/2 teaspoon salt
2  1/2 teaspoons baking powder
4cups flour

Add wet mixture to dry, stir only until mixed,

then add 1 and 3/4 tablespoons Baking soda, dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water, it will fizz up so use a 1 cup measure to mix it in

Stir only until mixed

Keep in the fridge 24 hours before baking (you don't have to); batter will keep 2 weeks in the fridge

Bake at 375 for 20 min.

Makes 2-3 dozen

Bake one dozen at a time so they were always fresh and yummy.


2 yummy recipes, enjoy if you try! And they are both fast so lots of time left for blogging! tee hee.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

I tell myself I can let go of the anxiety, and then....

...things like this happen:

Food Recall Warning - Sweet 2 Eat brand fresh, whole Peaches, Plums, Nectarines and Pluots, packed by Wawona Packing Company of Cutler, California, USA, recalled due to Listeria monocytogenes

(the recall also applies to the USA)

This is why it scares me.

I don't know for sure if we bought the Sweet 2 Eat brand,  but I sure as hell did eat peaches, nectarines and plums from our local grocery store between June 1th and last week. Quite a lot of them. Update: I know I DID eat at least the peaches because I found one of the fruit stickers that I stuck to the sink.

Our local grocery pulled their possibly affected fruit on Saturday Monday, but we still could have come into contact with it before that.  I wash my fruit thoroughly, so I hope this risk is low to non-existent, but it's still there. And wouldn't you know, I've become quite the hypochondriac since becoming pregnant. Oh, and symptoms of listeria infection can take up to 70 days to show up (as mild flu-like symptoms, most likely). Doesn't that do a lot for mental ruminations over 3rd trimester.

I'm really going to try not to stress out over this, since I can't see what else I can do about it.  But I wish this wasn't what was on my mind as I enter 3rd trimester. Can it be October already?

In other news, I feel very healthy and Ember is wiggling away.

Update: A little bit more on the food recall. Somewhat reassuringly, it sounds like it was very much a precautionary measure. I suppose to look on the positive side it is good that the USA has such strict laws in place and that the company is taking this measure. What's disturbing though is the huge range of time that fruit could have been consumed. And although there are no official reported cases of illness, internet is full of stories of people claiming to have gotten sick after eating it in the previous 6 weeks. Guess I'll go clean my kitchen with bleach now...

Should you worry? What you need to know about the Listeria fruit recall (Forbes Magazine)

FAQ (Wawona Packing Plant)

Quoted from FAQ:

On July 10, 2014, an Australian Importer notified Wawona Packing that it had detected trace amounts of listeria monocytogenes (LM) on three of the company’s peaches. The fruit was released to the public in Australia because the LM content was within the limits allowed by Australia. The United States has a zero tolerance for listeria monocytogenes (LM). Upon being notified by Australia, Wawona Packing immediately retained a private laboratory to test both the Wawona Packing physical plant as well as product.
On July 17, 2014, the laboratory informed Wawona Packing of three confirmed positive tests for LM on product (two peaches and one nectarine). However, other fruit from the same lot of fruit that tested positive, was in fact negative for listeria monocytogenes (LM), providing proof that not all fruit in the recall is potentially tainted with LM. 

From The

 Australia, like many other countries, allows for low levels of listeria because levels of less than 100 colony forming units per gram of food “do not present a public risk,” Wawona officials said in the July 21 statement. The peaches that tested positive in Australia had less than 10 units per gram, according to the Wawona statement. 

Monday 21 July 2014

Lab tests and attachment parenting

Welcome to any new (or familiar) readers coming by because of IcomLeavWe. There seems to be exactly one week in the year when I can be sure I'll have enough time to participate, and this is it! I am Turtle (or Síochána Arandomhan, or torthúil after the blog name, whatever), almosttwentysevenweekspregnant, and trying to find my way through all the surprising (and mostly good) events and milestones of 2014.

What's new:
Because my glucose screening test for gestational diabetes last week came back on the high side, I had to go in for a glucose tolerance test this morning.

The summary of what happens during a glucose tolerance test:
An oral glucose tolerance test measures the body's ability to use glucose, a type of sugar found in fruits and many other foods. (Glucose is the main source of energy used by the body.) After not eating all night, the person being tested drinks a special sugar solution on the morning of the test. A blood sugar sample is taken from a vein in the person's arm once each hour for several hours to see how much the blood sugar increases and then decreases over time. The test is done in a doctor's office or lab. The oral glucose tolerance test can be used to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes. It is used to diagnose gestational diabetes, which may develop during pregnancy.
Having blood drawn doesn't scare me much, but of course the part of this test that is the real drag is not being able to eat all morning. Also, you're not supposed to drink water after drinking the sugar drink. I can get a headache if I don't eat/drink regularly so I was a bit worried about this happening, but I was OK. The sugar drink wasn't quite as gross as the internet made it sound, either; it tasted like flat Orange Crush. Not delicious, but tolerable. I'm hoping the GTT comes back all-clear, because I really want minimal pregnancy related-issues, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, I guess.

I also made sure I had a book with me as I had to sit in the lab for 2 hours in between the 3 blood draws. I've read and re-read all my favourite books, and 6 months of Scientific American back issues, so I had to find something else. I decided I would buy a parenting book. The only parenting/pregnancy books I've read are the two free ones provided by government health services (see here and here). I have no good reason for this lack of study, just....avoidance. As in, am I actually in a position where I need to read one of those?

Well. My way of shopping for a book was to get onto the Kobo bookstore on my e-reader, select the "Infants and Toddlers" category, or alternately, "Parenting/Child Care" and proceed to scroll through the list of hundreds of books without any clear idea of what I was looking for. This is when I hope there actually is an algorithm that can read my mind (even when I don't know it myself). I didn't see any evidence that there is, however.

Scrolling through dozens of titles (I didn't get through all of them by any means) allowed me to draw some general conclusions about parenting book selection.  First, there are an awful lot of books about how to get babies to sleep. There are also a lot of books about discipline and dealing with defiant children.  There is a smaller subset on dealing with anxious children. Maybe I was just paying a bit more attention to those, because I wonder sometime if my anxiety is going to make my child anxious. (When the thought occurs to me I pat my belly and assure Ember that at the very worst mommy will save up lots of money for counselling bills.)

Similar to those topics, there were many many books dealing with specific parenting skills or "issues" - e.g. potty training, learning, how to keep your child "calm," etc. As I scrolled through them I realized that that is not the kind of parenting book I wanted to read, at least not right now. Obviously, Ember is still safely stowed inside so I don't know what kind of "issues" she might have. In addition, I'm rather resistant to books that propose a method or series of steps that is supposed to solve all your hairy troublesome problems, like BAM! There are, of course A TON of books like that marketed to teachers. Books with titles like "5 Easy Steps to Perfect Classroom Management" (I made that up). I find that kind of narrow focus on a specific issue deadening/anxiety inducing. I prefer a big-picture approach. For example, when it comes to challenging/aggressive behaviour, I am a proponent of the Therapeutic Crisis Intervention approach because it teaches a way of thinking about the situation/person, rather than a "if this happens do this" instruction manual.

So, I wanted a book with a big scope. I also wanted something positive. Not a book along the theme of "Why your child is going to grow up into a spoiled entitled BRAT." Anyway, I decided on

M.S., Jeffrey L. Fine, Ph.D., Joseph Chilton Pearce  Dalit Fine - The Art of Conscious Parenting
The Art of Conscious Parenting: the Natural Way to Give Birth, Bond with, and Raise Healthy Children, by Jeffrey L. Fine and Dalit Fine.


I'm about 3 chapters into this book. It has answered my needs by proposing a way of thinking about parenting rather than "solutions" to parenting "problems." There is a huge emphasis on how the actions and even the thoughts of the parents influence child development, from the moment of conception, nay, up to 60 days before conception. Some of the studies cited state conclusions that sound a bit wild to me, but there are some I'd really like to believe, for example that mothers who have lots of nightmares during pregnancy have shorter, easier and happier births: because the nightmares are a way of subconsciously dealing with anxieties. Yah for nightmares!

As I was reading this book I realized that probably another reason I chose it is that I want a book that will argue with my anxieties and fears: specifically my fears about my body not being able to sustain a healthy pregnancy and birth and my mind collapsing under the pressure of it all. The Fines insist that women know how to give birth and nurture and busybodies can just get out of the way. Whether or not I decide to become a "follower" of their philosophy, that is a message that I need to hear right now.

Does anyone have a pregnancy/parenting/childbirth book that they recommend? How did/do you approach the question of what kind of a parent you should be? Opinions or insights?

Wednesday 2 July 2014


The day has caught me in a good mood.

So, I decided I had to have an entry that focused just on what I have accomplished so far in this pregnancy. I seem to spend a lot of time looking fearfully over my shoulder. But, I have put one foot in front of the other this month! Omigosh!

1) Information gathered, and decisions made (sort of) re: maternity leave. I have to say first that maternity/parental leave benefits are really good. Basically I can take 6 months maternity leave, and 6 months parental leave for a total of a year. There's a lot of details involved about collecting employment insurance, getting sick leave pay, etc., but the overall picture looks pretty good. So I'm grateful for that. Being a union employee has its advantages.

The back-and-forth in my mind was over when I should start maternity leave. I'm off for summer holidays till end of August (yay) but will be returning to work then for the last 6 weeks or so of the pregnancy. Rather awkward timing. And of course those are probably the most hectic weeks in the entire school year. I tend to spend a lot of time on my feet. Still, as far as I can tell, what most teachers with my board/union do is start the leave upon the birth of the baby. If they are unable to work right up to the birth, they take a sick leave, with doctor's note, before birth. This is what I've decided to do, in so far as I can make decisions about it right now.

People I've talked to have different views on working before baby's arrival. My immediate colleagues all seem to think I should be a home nesting and taking care of myself. Which sounds appealing, except that up to six weeks of that seems like a little...much. Also, if I take early leave I lose that time with the baby once born. And there there other inconveniences re: pension and benefits. My MIL had a different view: she said that there are many physical discomforts with late pregnancy and it helps to have a job to distract yourself. So, to make a long story short I decided that I would not put pressure on myself to make the "right" decision so far in advance. Later in August I will discuss it with my doctor again. I think it will be pretty obvious to me and to everyone else if I am unable to work in September, and I'm confident I can advocate for myself.

2) Signed up for prenatal classes. Actually, they are both pre- and post- natal: 5 weeks before and 5 weeks after birth. There are a variety of options available and I chose the longest course with the most detail. This was an easy decision to make because my knowledge of babies is natch, nada, non-existent. My life circumstances have coalesced to give me no exposure to or experience with infants. Neither of my older brothers is married or has kids. I never babysat. Mr. Turtle is eldest of his siblings and the other two have no kids (although that will probably change in the next couple of years). Neither of us have extended family nearby with children. I have exactly one friend my age with a child, and she lives in Scotland. The rest of my friends are child-free; some by choice and some by circumstance (or a bit of both).  Although I work with a team of women who have children, most of them are older than me and their kids are bigger or adults. One colleague is only a year older, but she had her kids younger so they are school-age now.

Now, not gonna lie, when we were dealing with infertility I was quite grateful for this situation. Mr. Turtle and I could hang with friends and go to family gatherings and not be surrounded by babies and children and talk of children. I've read enough blogger tales of clueless friends/siblings/in-laws and harrowing baby showers/weddings/family holidays to be pleased that most of the time, I simply didn't have to deal with any of that. Nevertheless, it is a bit peculiar to now be contemplating the arrival of a baby amid all this cheerful childlessness. Ironically, Mr. Turtle works with a lot of younger women so he has a lot more people to talk to about babies and parenting. I'm happy for him, but what am I supposed to do?

Well in short, I still don't really know what to do but I figure an detailed course on babies is a good place to start. People also tell me that that it is a good way to meet other expecting parents and make friends. I'm not sure about this: am I supposed to become best buddies with people just because they happen to be procreating at the same time? But apparently this is how it works and what do I know, after all.

2) I start pre-natal yoga today! I'm a little nervous about this but also excited. As soon as I learned I was pregnant, I stopped going to all my dance classes. Many people do dance and exercise through pregnancy, but between the nausea and exhaustion and stress and mistrust of my own body, I couldn't handle it. I still walk a fair bit, with more or less enjoyment. But I have missed the peace and focus that physical activity can bring to me. I'm really hoping that yoga can be good for both body and mind.

3) I bought a swimsuit and am really looking forward to spending some time in the water. We have some good recreational facilities nearby that we haven't taken advantage of.

4) We have sort of a plan for the house/baby's room, although we haven't actually done anything. I haven't bought any baby stuff either, because at present I have nowhere to put it (and I haven't quite worked up the nerve). But that should start happening in the next couple of months.

Ember is 24 weeks today. I had another appointment with the ob/gyn. Heartbeat was a 135/140 bpm and the doctor could hear her moving around, although I couldn't feel anything at that moment.  She said: "That's a very happy baby in there!" I have felt movement quite a bit in the past 4 weeks. It varies from little pokes and tickles: I think of those as her hands, though of course I have no idea, to bigger WHOMPS that I think of as kicks. Mr. Turtle has been able to feel movement by putting his hand on my belly.

I tend to feel movement in the morning (sometimes in the middle of the night) and then less over the afternoon, and then sometimes an increase again in evening or right when I go to bed. The doctor tells me this is normal and there's no expectation of how much movement is felt at this stage (although I am much happier when I feel it regularly. I admit I sometimes poke Ember to try to make her move, although that generally doesn't work.  The one thing that did make her move was when I absentmindedly put a cup of hot tea up against my belly. WHOMP.)

I've had 2 kinds of groin pains off and on over the past month. One kind starts very low and then shoots upward toward the belly button, like I'm being pinched. It can be quite shocking. It can happen after walking or moving but also when I'm sitting or when I wake up in bed. Doctor said it was muscles and ligaments stretching and not to worry unless it starts to happen regularly and doesn't go away.   The other kind feels like a throbbing pain in my vagina. She said that this was caused by pressure and it probably would continue throughout the pregnancy. Hurrah, another reason for me to be sticking my hand down my pants. I have been paying more attention to posture and body position while sleeping/awake and it does seem to help.

Emotionally I'm doing OK although my moods are pretty unstable. I admit that while I was accomplishing the things listed above, I had moments of feeling like I was a fraud. Like I am perpetuating a ruse on the world that I'm having a baby, and one of these days, the game is going to be up. The fear of something happening to Ember, or me doing something to harm her, is also a constant companion. Usually I can put it aside, but sometimes it hits me with paralyzing brutality. Although I do want to do some fun/healthy activities this month (I mean, other than reading and sleeping) I don't plan to venture too far from home or Mr. Turtle or my health care team. My feelings are just too changeable. One minute I can be really into something, having a good time, enjoying myself, then the next I can't stand it and I want to be alone/at home/lying down/away from everyone. So, I can't really see myself enjoying any long trips anywhere.

Anyway. This is getting rather long (that's what happens when I don't update for a month?) and the sun is shining outside. I will end with a charming encounter I had this morning. I was at my clinic, writing down my next appointment, when a very little girl walked up to me. She had been waiting with her dad for her mom and I guess she was restless. She was walking confidently, but had next to no hair and still looked baby-like. This little girl had great presence of mind and seemed very interested in me. I was charmed and showed her the flower pen I was writing with. I was rewarded with a big smile. Then, as I stood up to go, she walked helpfully to the door and put her hand on it (she could barely reach the handle) as if to open it for me. That made me laugh. I had to wait by the door for her dad to come retrieve her, as I'm sure if I had opened the door she would have walked right out with me.

Somehow the encounter with this happy spirit has strengthened mine. I can't see the future, but I feel like joyful sprites walk with me.

Oh, and erm. In honour of 24 weeks, I attempted my first awkward pregnancy selfie. Hardly the best picture I have of myself, but there it is.

(I actually much prefer this photo of a momma and baby seal, from San Diego in March.)